Arriving six years after Emotion & Commotion, a largely instrumental album that found Jeff Beck pushing at his prog boundaries, Loud Hailer is a very different beast than its predecessor. Revived by the presence of two female collaborators -- vocalist Rosie Bones and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg, both proving to be worthy sparring partners -- Beck returns to gnarled, loud guitar rock on Loud Hailer, not so much reveling in the psychedelic skronk of the Yardbirds or the heavy stomp of the Jeff Beck Group but favoring an arena-ready rock that places an emphasis on such old-fashioned values as chops and social consciousness. The latter helps Loud Hailer feel tied to its time: Bones sings about reality television, loss of innocence, and any number of ills plaguing modern society. That Loud Hailer doesn't feel especially contemporary isn't much of a drawback: perhaps Beck doesn't truck with the sounds of the 2010s -- "Shame" quite clearly uses "A Change Is Gonna Come" as its template -- but he's not in revivalist mode, either, choosing to use his personal overblown traditions as a way to sound other. As always, his playing is startling: he's restless and exploratory, as susceptible to lyricism as he is to outright noise, and what makes his performance better is how he always cedes the spotlight to Rosie Bones. Letting his vocalist be the focal point winds up giving his guitar a boost, letting it command attention even in short bursts. Sometimes, the old-fashionedness can lead Beck and band toward embarrassing territory -- the funk workout of "O.I.L. (Can't Get Enough of That Sticky)" inspires cringes -- but usually it allows everybody space to stretch out, to let Beck turn out great squalls of feedback and sweet runs while still retaining the attention on the song. Compared to the floating ambition of Emotion & Commotion, this album feels invigorating and suggests that Beck doesn't want to rest on his laurels, even if he's not fully committed to embracing the turmoil of the present.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine